I am about to do something unheard of in Capitol Hill–I am going to write a blog post critical of Taylor Gourmet Deli. Yes, yes, I know that we all love what Taylor has done for H Street—making it a lunchtime destination for even the downtown crowd—but does living along the H Street corridor mean that we have to accept mediocre sandwiches at outrageous prices? I love a great hoagie just as much as the next gal, but what I don’t love is a poorly constructed sandwich, with absent meats and cheeses served on a less than pleasing roll. Unfortunately, Taylor Gourmet Deli now serves that sandwich, and has the audacity to call it a hoagie.
I was elated when I heard that a gourmet deli was coming to H Street in 2008, but I was skeptical of any deli outside of the Delaware Valley that claimed to make a hoagie. Getting a real hoagie outside of South Philly or South Jersey is like going to Disney World and ordering an authentic “Philly” cheesesteak. You know you are getting a steak-um with some cheese on a torpedo roll, but you hold out hope that this time it will be different and the sandwich will be just like the one you get at Pat’s.
Skepticism aside, I waited in line for my first Taylor hoagie on a cool autumn afternoon shortly after the store opened its doors, and the hoagie was everything I hoped it would be and more. The meats and cheeses were a step above even the best lunchmeats offered in South Philly, and when Casey told me, as he made my sandwich, that the rolls were from Sarcone’s Bakery–SARCONE’S!—I knew I’d be back for more.
I quickly became a regular, stopping by for a hoagie or some Rocky’s Risotto Balls at least once a week. Then Casey stopped making the hoagies, and David stopped working the counter. New guys came in and the hoagies started to suffer.
This past Sunday I got what may just be my last hoagie from Taylor Gourmet Deli. When I took a bite of my hoagie, I was less than pleased. The roll was hard—and not “good Italian roll hard” but “three day old hard.” The menu indicated that there would be sharp provolone on my specialty hoagie, the Philadelphia Landfill, but I couldn’t taste the cheese. The turkey on my hoagie was broken up into tiny pieces no bigger than a dime, and at first bite most of the turkey fell from the back of the roll onto the brown paper wrapper that was my plate. The tomatoes were more pink than red, and they were sliced so thin that you could read the menu through them. The only redeeming things on my sandwich were the perfectly shredded lettuce, the ham and the salami. Unfortunately, there was only one slice of each meat.
What happened to my hoagie that held me over between visits to New Jersey? As I rolled up the brown paper with the last bit of roll too hard to eat, I decided that the Taylor hoagie is now just a mediocre, over priced sandwich, and that I’d have to wait until my next trip to Jersey before I had another hoagie.
And the Taylor boys? Rumor has it that they spend their days at their new K Street location.